Rating: G (I'm not sure.)
Feedback: Please. Constructive criticism is always welcome.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything associated with BtVS and AtS. (Characters, plots, and dialogue from the shows are borrowed with no infringement intent whatsoever.)
Distribution: Please ask and let me know where it's going.
Summary: Buffy stops by Angel Investigations. She's not sure why until she is leaving.
The building loomed high and wide and occupied an entire city block. 'What am I doing here? Doesn't look like any place I'd like to work, but hey...' Buffy thought to herself as she approached the Hyperion Hotel, 'I see Angel still loves a lot of space.'
She opened the door and entered a pleasantly furnished office and waiting area.
Cordelia looked up. "Buffy. What are you doing in L.A.? You're here to see Angel?"
"Hi, Cordelia. I always spend the summer with my father and since I'm leaving tomorrow, I thought I'd stop in and say hello before I left for Sunnydale. Is he around?"
"Yeah. How did you know where to find us?"
"You sent Willow an Angel Investigations business card." She pulled the card out of her pocket.
"Oh, yeah. I forgot about that." She looked at her watch and picked up her purse. Look I've got an audition for a television commercial in two hours and I have to go home and change. Angel should be down in about twenty minutes. Tell him I said that I went to lunch a few minutes early and I'm taking the afternoon off."
Cordelia left the office without another word.
Buffy looked around the office briefly, then sat down at Cordelia's desk, picked up a copy of Cosmo and was idly flipping through the pages when a middle aged women walked into the office.
"Hello." Buffy greeted the woman.
"Is Angel here?"
"He will be down in a few minutes. Would you like to have a seat?"
"I see you're not as rude in person as you are on the phone."
"What? Oh, you have me confused with someone else. I don't work here. I'm just visiting from out of town."
"I'm sorry. I'm Nadia Varenken. It's just that I've been getting these awful phone calls from Angel Investigations about what I owe and I just don't have the money right now. I am very grateful for Angel's help; he saved my son's life. I tried to explain to the caller that I would pay the bill, but she keeps insisting that I pay right away. Due to unforeseen circumstances I can't pay right now. I came down here to see if I can work out some kind of payment schedule so I can pay some each month until the bill is paid off and to get them to stop the phone calls."
"Wait a minute, Ms Varenken. You owe Angel because he helped your son?"
"Yes. I got a bill in the mail two days after the night he saved my son."
Angel heard the last of the conversation as he came down the stairs.
"Hello, Buffy, how are you? Is there a problem here?"
Ms Varenken turned to face the voice's owner. "Are you Angel?"
"I'm Nadia Varenken."
"Oh, yes, Ms Varenken. Is your son all right? How can I help you?"
"I came here to talk about my bill and to stop the harassing phone calls."
Angel was obviously embarrassed. If he could have blushed, he would have. "I'm sorry about that. Sometimes my secretary gets a little aggressive. I assure you there will be no more phone calls from this office and just pay the bill when you can."
Ms Varenken was so relieved. "Thank you. I will make a payment every month until the bill is paid off. Thank you again." She turned to Buffy. "I'm sorry, miss."
Buffy smiled. "There is no need for you to apologize. None whatsoever."
When the door closed behind Ms Varenken, Buffy turned to face Angel. He knew from the look on her face that Buffy was highly displeased.
"You charge people for helping them?"
"Why? Why would you do that?"
"Where did you ever get that idea?"
"Well, it was Cordy's idea. She said that we needed to make a living off the service that we provide."
"Is that right? Is that what you're doing? Providing a service?"
"Yes, a service for which I get paid. You should get paid, too."
"I do get paid. I work twenty hours a week at the high school teaching self-defense. For that I get paid."
"Buffy, we only charge people who can afford to pay."
"Well clearly Ms Varenken cannot afford to pay. Who decides who can and cannot afford to pay anyway?
"Well, Cordy handles the books." He could see Buffy shrug and the look of disapproval on her face. "Buffy, I'm risking my life fighting, saving people whenever Cordy gets a vision. I'm working for my redemption."
"A vision? Your redemption? "
"Yes, vision. Doyle used to get visions from The Powers That Be. When he died he passed the visions on to Cordelia." He blew out the unneeded air he had been holding. "There is a prophecy that says that when I have redeemed myself for all the evil that Angelus did, I will become human again. Don't you see? I'm doing this for us."
"No, Angel. Don't you see? You're not working for your redemption, because you didn't commit the crimes. Angelus did and you can't redeem him. The reward that you're working for is what you're getting right now. Money."
"No. That's not true… That can't be true."
"Angel, think about it. Your eyes have been blinded by some else's greed."
"How did he do it?"
"How did Doyle pass the visions on to Cordelia?"
"He kissed her. What does that have to do with anything?"
Buffy ignored the question. "Was there a personal relationship between Cordelia and Doyle? What kind of person was Doyle?"
"Well he had the hots for Cordy from the first time he saw her. I don't know how she felt about him, but I think he was softening her up. As for what kind of person he was, Doyle was genuinely a nice guy, kind, cared about people. He gave his life to save a group of half-demons."
"Tell me. Do any of those qualities describe Cordelia?"
"She's changed, Buffy. She's not the same person that you knew back in high school. She gave up her dream of becoming an actress and allowed herself to become half-demon in order to accommodate the visions because they were killing her."
"If she gave up her dream of becoming an actress, why is she auditioning for a television commercial even as we speak?"
Angel had no reply.
"Did it ever occur to you that maybe Cordelia's visions were coming from a different source? Picking up her purse and jacket to leave, Buffy said, "Look, Angel, I didn't come here to criticize the way you're living your life. I spent the summer with my father and I'm returning to Sunnydale tomorrow; I…"
He interrupted her. "Wait a minute. You've been in L.A. all summer and you just decided to stop by? Why did you come here, Buffy?"
With her best Angelus smirk, Buffy replied as she walked out of the door, "Maybe The Powers That Be sent me."
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